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One of Power Metal's Hidden Gems - 92%

A Friendly Observer, September 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Phonotraxx Publishing

The power metal scene -- especially those who favor 'female-fronted' acts -- needs to boot up a rescue mission to save this band from its criminally undeserved obscurity. For the last decade, Germany's Dawn of Destiny has been cranking out quality album after quality album, practically without notice. The crown jewel of their discography, thus far, narrowly beating out 2008's Rebellion In Heaven, is 2012's Praying to the World, their first with current vocalist Jeanette.

I've been in love with this album since it came out, and it has not yet lost any of its appeal. It is full of soaring, addictive hooks, song structures that toe just the right line between conventionality and unpredictability, an unusual and effective blend of clean female, clean male, and screamed male vocals, virtuosic guitar solos, and brooding, angsty lyrics.

Compositionally this is a bit more sophisticated than most power metal gets, and more complex than their previous records, too -- which shines most clearly on 'Misunderstood'. This is how you write a prog-influenced power metal song, people: every section of the song naturally flows into every other section, momentum never halts, and the climax of the song, featuring simple but stunning vocal counterpoint between the female and male singers, is goosebumps-inducing. Experimentation is also evident on 'The Right Path', which features an unpredictable chord progression, bonus track 'Different World', which features not one, but two key changes at the end, and closer 'Praying to the World', another song that eschews pop structure for theatrical storytelling.

Not that there aren't plenty of killer songs with a pop structure on here: this band is a veritable hook machine; it's jaw-dropping moment after jaw-dropping moment here, from 'Promised Land' and 'My Four Walls', which feature two of the most relentlessly catchy choruses I've ever heard, to 'Miracles' and 'My Aching Heart', the latter of which wakes the album back up after a few filler tracks buried in the bottom third of the album.

Even by metal standards, and even by German standards, and even by German power metal standards, the lyrics on this album are a bit dramatic -- not to mention overly literal. Lowlights of the band's tendency toward cartoonish lyrics include a line referring to 'defecation' (yes, they use that word) in 'My Four Walls' and a laughable image of 'stealing food out of the trash can' in opener 'My Life Lies In Ruins.' Even on strong songs like closing duet 'Praying to the World' we get lines like this: 'Another rainy morning - my feet won't carry me out of bed/Another wasted day, like all the other days of my life': 2000s emo acts have nothing on Dawn of Destiny. The album as a whole isn't like this, but there are enough questionable moments like this to raise an eyebrow. But overall, the lyrics just stick to common metal themes like loneliness, pain, longing for answers, and so on.

It frustrates me that this album languishes in obscurity. What can explain its lack of appeal? Perhaps it is that they hit something like the inverse of a sweet spot for people; they are, maybe, 'too hot' for many fans of 'female-fronted' acts, given how much heavier and less symphonic they are than bands like Nightwish, yet 'too cold' for those looking primarily for aggression and brutality -- which, while present on this record, are far from the emotional center that holds it together. So, this is something of a niche record: theatrical, brooding, melodic, aggressive, manic-depressive. Altogether it forms a highly cohesive whole, and stands as one of the hidden gems of power metal.

Prostrated before a wicked Earth. - 87%

hells_unicorn, May 16th, 2013

Dawn Of Destiny's story is a familiar one, namely a female fronted power metal band that takes its cues from both the Nightwish approach since "Century Child" and the continual political activism with a shade of beauty and the beast cliches of Epica. They have differentiated themselves a bit by focusing more on the chorus-oriented German sound typical to a number of Helloween inspired acts, but it's largely a band that caters to a keyboard/symphonic oriented crowd with a slight echo of extreme metal around the edges. Add to this formulaic sound a band that loses its long time vocalist Tanja Maul, and it looks like the classic "Deja Vu all over again" scenario where two paths emerge, one bold and usually disastrous in its results, the other safe and clinging to existing practices. In complete utter contrast to the path taken by Nightwish, this German outfit has opted for consistency, and the results are a welcome exercise in sameness.

In essence, "Praying To The World" could be dubbed "Human Fragility" part 2, even going to far as to adorning the album cover with the same marionette-like figure in a position of subversion. Likewise, the entrance of vocalist Jeanette Scherff may as well have been Tanja Maul reprising her role as front woman, as the former sounds about as much like the latter as new Xandria vocalist Manuela Kraller does to Tarja Turunen. Combine this with the same person still working behind the scenes writing the songs, what emerges is a conservative approach to maintaining a continuity of sound that would have worked just as well had Nightwish employed it on "Dark Passion Play". The results are heavy hitting yet consonant and catchy, walking that delicate middle ground that is walked fairly well by a number of gothic-tinged bands who play both to a wide audience yet retains a slightly extreme edge.

For anyone unfamiliar with this band's sound, the basic formula is elaborate, yet humble in comparison to most power metal bands. Stylistic contrast tends to trump technical showboating, though there is a greater reliance on speed riffing and drumming than the typical Epica album. There is also a slight industrial edge that comes and goes on a couple of songs, namely "My Life Lies In Ruins" and "Beast Human", not all that dissimilar from a few choice songs heard out of Krypteria of late. Interestingly enough, the feel of this band's sound may come off as slightly neurotic at times given the massive shifts between joyous anthems sounding not all that far removed from a Meatloaf homage in the Tobias Sammet style like "Miracles" and the extended, dreary symphonic epic "Misunderstood" that all but one ups Nightwish's saddest songs with ease.

A lot of the contrast that emerges on this album is driven by the diversity of certain peripheral elements, namely the support vocals of a number of guest singers and the keyboard work of Dirk Raczkiewicz. The riff set tends to range from being mundane to somewhat mechanical, guitar solos tend to be sparsely employed, but the vocal interplay between Jeanette and the various male foils employed and the atmospheric detailing of say a harpsichord on "Different World" or an effects rich piano and ambient set of sounds on "Another Pain" masks what is a fairly plain songwriting approach. Bear in mind that this band isn't bereft of metallic elements, and takes several occasions such as on "Promised Land" and bonus song "In Another Time" to just write an up tempo power metal assault with instant sing-along value, each with a signature chorus enticing the ears for repeated listens.

Ultimately, the name of the game here is consistency, and this album is oozing with it in comparison to its two predecessors. In itself it comes off as quite diverse, but when matched aside "Human Fragility" it is a welcome exercise in sameness. If there's any complaint that can be launched at it, it's that much like Epica, it sometimes wears its lyrical obsession with world politics like a bloody shirt-sleeve, all but jabbing the listener in the eye repeatedly and yelling "start caring about the world you selfish bastard". Unlike Epica they don't devote the entire album to it, but a few songs like "Beast Human" become tiresome after a couple go-arounds. It's a small flaw, it's slightly more noticeable than previous albums, nevertheless the album as a whole is a definitely keeper.

A small step back. - 70%

AnalogKid, July 14th, 2012

Long one of my favorite female fronted metal bands, German power metal quartet (quintet? I can never keep this straight) Dawn Of Destiny has very quietly released their much anticipated follow-up to Human Fragility. In fact, I very nearly missed it altogether! Since the band last graced the scene with their presence, lead singer Tanja Maul has departed, with Jeanette Scherff making her debut with the band (and she is a very acceptable replacement, in fact at first I didn’t even notice the difference), as well as a new drummer claiming his place upon the sweaty throne- and getting right to work.

All in all, this is quite the same style of smartly melodic power metal, blended with graceful and attractive female vocals, that has always attracted me to the band. Songs like the infectious “Miracles” and opener “My Life Lies In Ruins” show off the same mastery of melodic blending and almost soothing choruses that the band placed on display for Rebellion In Heaven, but newfound elements of harshness have found there way into Dawn Of Destiny’s sound. To this effect, a full half of the songs on Praying To The World feature harsh male vocals in support of the otherwise bright and generally accessible sound of the album.

Thus begins my criticism. To be blunt- these harsh vocals are not very good. I’m always up for an appropriately placed howl, scream, or roar, but whoever is tackling these duties on Praying To The World is either very new at it, or doesn’t have the strength to properly pull them off without sounding like retching and/or background noise. I suppose I ought to get used to the stereotypical (dare I say “trendy?”) use of death vocals in female-fronted metal, but most of the time, the formula just doesn’t work for me. Then again, there isn’t a great deal of female-fronted metal that is potent and striking enough to capture my attention- which doubles my frustration when one of my favorite artists in the field fouls themselves a bit with the practice. It’s not all bad though: “Beast Human” is a rare track where I feel that the harshness complements Scherff’s voice rather than hindering it. However, the finest dark track on the album altogether must go to “My Four Walls”, with its murky, creeping approach that is coupled with some great melodies and a good story (and there’s no harsh vocals to muck it up!).

Secondly, we have the overall length of the album. No song is really too long, but around “Bleeding Me”, I figured the band was running out of steam and about ready to call it quits. Traditionally, this is a flaw for Dawn Of Destiny, and it is no less present on Praying To The World. Past albums have stretched to fourteen or fifteen tracks, and spill out over an hour long, and while I’m always a fan of hearing plenty of original material, it is undeniable that in most cases (especially non-progressive and non-concept albums), listeners begin to lose interest the longer that an album goes on. Even as a veteran listener to many long-winded albums, I found my interest waning fast on repeated spins. Now, let it be known that I did start the cd at “One Last Word” a couple of time before looping back to the opener, and it’s not my imagination- the album is also a bit top-heavy. The possible exception being “This Aching Heart”, and definitely the closing title track, which is excellent!

It is with some trepidation then, that I judge this to be Dawn Of Destiny’s weakest album since their debut. However, with the respective strength of Rebellion In Heaven and Human Fragility, there is no shame included for the band. The promo material for this release claims that the album has a very dark atmosphere (well, that’s somewhat true, in places), as well as an aggressive showing of death and thrash metal (not really either, aside from the vocals), but this doesn’t really describe the overall feeling very well, as the band manages something a bit more complex. I feel that with new members, a new sound wiggled its way into the mix, and while much of Dawn Of Destiny’s formula is the same, the consistency isn’t there, and the high points are a bit fewer and further between. That said, and for all of my criticism, this is still a very respectable effort from a talented artist, and I recommend it with eagerness to any and all old fans of the band- as well as regular listeners of power metal. It may even bring a few of the gothic-tinged symphonic heavy/power listeners closer to the shining land of power metal.

Original review written for Black Wind Metal

4th CD and yet still going amazingly strong - 95%

dweeb, July 3rd, 2012

Dawn of Destiny is a lightly symphonic power metal band from Germany and this is their fourth studio CD. They continue in the same vein as their previous CDs with their signature blend of dynamic power metal and extremely catchy, memorable choruses. The power metal is generally fast, heavy and crunchy, and features a noticeably more prominent use of keys than their previous CDs did. The arrangements are usually a dense, busy, epic tapestry of changing riffs and guitar melodies with pervasive epic symphonic keys. Dawn of Destiny has always had a knack for writing catchy choruses that stick in your head for days after listening to a song, and ‘Praying to the world’ is no different; indeed, one needs to go back to their masterpiece, ‘Rebellion in Heaven’ to find anything better, and that’s saying a lot.

They have a new female vocalist, Jeanette Scherff, who replaced Tanja Maul from the first three CDs. Tanja was one of my all-time favorite singers with her extraordinary passion, enthusiasm and sheer power of delivery; so how does Jeanette compare? Though similar in style to Tanja, Jeanette does not bring the same level of power and musicality to the songs; that said, she has a warm, enthusiastic, engaging style somewhere between alto and soprano, and certainly has enough power to stay out in front of the bombast of Dawn of Destiny’s arrangements. There are much more male vocals on ‘Praying to the World’, for the first time introducing frequent clean vocals; these vocals are pleasant and earnest, with a timbre that makes for some beautiful harmonies with Jeanette. The excellent fierce death vocals are also more prominent than on previous CDs.

Dawn of Destiny seems to have an endless supply of fresh, captivatingly memorable musical ideas, especially hooky riffs and amazing choruses; indeed, in terms of overall song-writing this may well be their best CD to-date. Though Tanja will be missed, the diversity in vocals they’ve introduced fits the song-writing very well and opens new horizons of contrast and harmony. It goes without saying that ‘Praying to the World’ is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys accessible high-energy power metal.

Originally reviewed at http://www.metalcdratings.com/